This is a video of creationists invading a science museum and spreading lies to a group of home-schooled children. At least they’re not from a public school, but still. This stuff really, really pisses me off. If I was in the same museum as these guys, I would have taken them to town all day if I had to.

I’m having trouble expressing my rage. Just watch the video, guys.

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Cheers to Fuller from the Young Australian Skeptics forum for bringing this to my attention.

The following is a video of Tim Minchin performing his poem “Storm” at the ‘9 Carols for a Godless Christmas’ concert at Hammersmith Apollo on the 21st of December. Please watch it, it’s really good. Oh, I fantasise about doing things like this.

Yes, it is finally up. No need to wait any longer, people. Click right here to be taken directly to the place where you can download the first episode of the official podcast of the Young Australian Skeptics, The Pseudo Scientists. Don’t be discouraged that the first episode doesn’t feature me (or the next episode, for that matter), it’s still a good podcast! No, really, it is!

Plus, with the power of the Internet, you can become a fan of The Pseudo Scientists on Facebook here. If you’re into that sort of thing, of course…

I spent a lot of time on this. A lot. But, finally, it’s here: the complete transcription of the Steven Novella/Rachael Dunlop interview on Episode 6 of the Skeptic Zone podcast. The 50 minute interview took me so much time to do it’s really not funny. Just think of all the blogging I could have done in that time…

Oh well, I guess I owed the guys at the Skeptic Zone something, due to their tireless efforts at putting out such a great podcast every week. Cheers guys. Plus, I also wanted to do it just so I could get in Steve’s good books for when he comes to Australia in 2010…  More of that in the interview.

I thought I might share a little of it with you, to whet your appetite for some hot, hot Novella ranting. The full transcript of the interview can be found here, on the Skeptic Zone website. That’s http://skepticzone.tv/trans_sn.htm for those who missed the non-spelt-out URL. How more obvious can I make the plug, guys? Oh, and Steve’s blog is here, at http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/ Just, you know, so he knows that I care…

Here it is, a brief snippet of the interview I so lovingly wrote down.

R: Mmm. So that sort of leads me onto the next question, which is about the hijacking of scientific terminology by CAM proponents. Recently, I attended the Mind-Body-Spirit, or -Wallet, festival, as we affectionately call it in Australia-

S: Right. *laughs*

R: -and you’d be amazed, Steve, did you know quantum technology is working in alternative medicine? I don’t know if you’ve heard about this-

S: Oh yeah!

R: *laughs*

S: Quantum technology is awesome, you know, throw the word “quantum” in there and it becomes instant pseudoscience.

R: Oh yeah, it’s fantastic.

S: It’s all about the marketing, which is one thing that the CAM industry does extremely well. It’s all about the marketing. They also have an advantage in the fact that they’re not constrained by things like facts and ethics.

R: Exactly.

S: If you’re not so constrained, you can model your marketing purely for psychological impact. There are certain themes that they follow: one theme is the new gee-whiz technology, and this has been going on for a long, long time, ever since Western science has been institutionalized and in vogue in civilization. So, a hundred years ago, the cutting-edge, science-y kind of treatment was radiation, so there were radioactive tonics that people thought were the latest-greatest thing. A hundred years before that it was electromagnetism, so that’s where Mesmer comes in with his animal magnetism, that you can use to cure just about anything. And now, it’s quantum, Deepak Chopra’s quantum healing, for example. It’s a new way of justifying the vitalistic notions that are thousands of years old, you know, the notion that there’s this life energy. So, now you just throw “quantum” in front of it, and you’ve got quantum life energy. But it’s the same sort of spiritual, pre-scientific notions that were weeded out of scientific thinking over a hundred years ago. But yeah, extremely effective marketing.

Don’t you just love the use of scientific technobabble in alternative medicine? Now I know I’m not alone in thinking that it’s deliciously digusting!

Yes, I’ve been neglecting blogging for a while, but for a good reason! The start of the holidays is always a bit rough, and I have been on my school’s Bike Camp for the past five days. Anyway, a new Common Creationist Claim post is up on Homologous Legs, which you can visit here. It’s all about abiogenesis, and should be a good introduction to the kinds of arguments creationists make regarding the scientific study of the naturalistic origin of life.

In other news, the second “first” episode of the Yougn Australian Skeptics was a failure (audio sotware recording problems again). Perhaps it was because I wasn’t there. We may never know. The next attempt is next week, but, being the busy man I am, I cannot attend, AGAIN. Darn Awards Night at school. Darn me winning an award for academic excellence. </humility>

Yes, it’s Part 5 of “Monkeys, Evolution and VenomFangX”. Watch at your peril, the arguments Shawn (VenomFangX) makes are quite bad.

I’ve written a new article on Young Australian Skeptics called “Creationist Argument – Mutations cannot increase information”. You can find it here, if you so wish to read it.

Basically, I’m going to be laying out the foundations of various arguments used by creationists in a way that young people can understand, provided they have a basic understanding of genetics. If they don’t know anything about genetics, it’s probably the case that they’re not interested in evolution very much, and so they wouldn’t read my articles.

We’ve also had two guest articles written already (here and here), and plugs on the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, the Skeptic Zone, Bad Astronomy and Teen Skepchick. Much love all around, especially to those teen skepchicks. Just about my age, wouldn’t you think?

photo-39

I know I blogged about this many months ago on Homologous Legs, but I thought that Informal Skepticism would be a good place to bring it up again.

Monkeybiz is a project that helps South African women earn income through making bead art pieces, such as the one in the photo above, in the style of their local beading tradition. Such art pieces are quite popular around the world, and recently my sister was given one of them as a present: I think it’s a giraffe. Anyway, that’s not the problem, that’s good. Helping disadvantaged people in undeveloped nations is a great thing, and should be encouraged. But here’s the problem (taken from this webpage):

Wellness Clinic

We run an HIV/AIDS Wellness Clinic located in the heart of Cape Town, which provides skills training and HIV/AIDS support for low-income HIV+ women. This thriving centre, started in 2003, caters for 60 women once a week, offering them beadwork training, HIV/AIDS counseling, yoga therapy, homeopathic HIV/AIDS treatment and basic nutrition. Exact! Clothing contributes NutriKing, a nutritious vitamin supplement to our clinic each month, and provides us with t-shirt off-cuts for stuffing for our products and our t-shirt project.

(Emphasis added by me, of course.)

Is this a bad thing? We all know, through common sense, a lack of actual data and Steven Novella, that homeopathy is not effective at treating medical conditions such as AIDS, or anything else that the placebo effect can’t take care of). Homeopathic products are little more than, one would presume, freshly oxygenated water (due to all that succussion) and the good wishes of the practitioner. The AIDS treatments given by this “Wellness Clinic” aren’t going to do anything to help the women who are receiving them, so is this bad?

If the location of the clinic was shifted to a First World country with adequate health care and a reasonable standard of living (*cough* Australia *cough*), then the answer to that question may be different. The taking of homeopathic remedies is only really harmful in two ways: one, if the remedies remove the ability or will to take actual effective medicine to treat the condition, or two, if the remedies cost a large amount of money and deprive them of what little wealth they have. Living in Australia, or, sigh, the US, would allow the first reason to not take homeopathic remedies to apply, as health care is good and the accessibility of real medicine is high. But in a nation such as South Africa, AIDS medication is hard to find, and you would have to guess, expensive because of it. So these women aren’t going to get real medication. Thus, getting homeopathy is not removing their ability to get good treatment.

But what about the second reason? We can discount that due to the fact that the clinic offers the homeopathy free of charge. No money is spent by the women receiving the homeopathy on the homeopathy itself.

Ah, a tough dilemma. But wait, there’s one more reason I forgot to give.

Another way that homeopathy could be dangerous is if the clinic itself could reasonably get some actual treatment at some sort of humanitarian discount instead of the homeopathy. Maybe some homeopathic practitioner persuaded Monkeybiz to buy their products? Hopefully not, but I wouldn’t put it past some of the people who advocate alternative medicines: they actually believe that it helps people, and want to do everything they can to show that it does. What’s better then than some cheery AIDS relief in South Africa? Oh, we’re being so helpful, think the homeopathy advocates.

Can you think of a way in which these homeopathic treatments are bad? If you can, please post a comment.

The Discovery Institute is so closed-minded, you know? I mean, it’s great that they want to teach the controversy about evolution and intelligent design, but what about other legitimate scientific controversies? Educating the public about supernatural creation is all well and great, however, they’re missing out on prime opportunities to also teach:

  • geocentrism,
  • the fall of Atlantis,
  • classical Greek chemistry,
  • the Flat Earth theory,
  • E.S.P’s existence,
  • ancient Egyptian cosmology,
  • the Invisible Pink Unicorn’s existence, and
  • the fact that the Pyramids were built by UFOs

But don’t worry, dear readers, you can pick up where the Discovery Institute left it: just by wearing one of these t-shirts!

Show support for your favourite discarded (pseudo)scientific hypothesis! I know I’m going to kick it old school and get one with this graphic on it:

turtle

For those still rooted to their religi-, I mean, scientific cause, you can proudly display your faith with this graphic:

devil

Satan sure loves those fossils!

I thought I was safe, but a tag just managed to slip past my defences and hit my part of the Internet. Oh well, it’ll get better if I put some cream on it. Scepticon is the offending tagger, and this was his weapon: a 50-caliber blog post aimed directly at my vulnerable new blog. That’s a bit below the belt, isn’t it?

So, this is how it works:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Okay, so No. 1 is done, as is No. 2…

Six random things, eh?

  1. I have just completed my three Year 12 exams for this semester: two Maths Methods exams and one Psychology exam. I’ll do well, hopefully.
  2. I have an iPod which I wish had a larger capacity, as I have sixty jazz albums I wish to put on it, but can’t due to me liking the stuff I have on it now too much.
  3. I would like to learn the guitar, but I’m too lazy.
  4. I own a blue t-shirt with a picture of a rabbit on it, and I wear it often.
  5. My legs are unpardonably hairy.
  6. I wear my watch on either wrist interchangeably.

Tag six people… Six people? That’s a lot.

  1. Skelliotblog
  2. The Sceptic’s Book of Pooh-Pooh
  3. The Darwin Report
  4. The Skepbitch
  5. Splendid Elles
  6. Ecstathy

Whew. Tough.

No. 5 I’ll do later…

No. 6 I’ll do later…

Done!


Don't stress.

Informal Skepticism seeks to discuss skeptical, scientific and religious topics in a way that won't make you stay awake at night, increase your blood pressure or cause stress-induced hallucinations.

Updated when the author feels it necessary and is able, which pretty much translates to "random", as he is a high school student.

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